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Six Fun, Creative and Sustainable Ideas for Holiday Giving

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Meryl Ann Butler     Permalink

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p>Here are six creative ways to make your holiday giving really count as you support small businesses, artists, gender-balance, and kindness.


1. Shop small, earn $30
Support local businesses on Small Business Saturday (Nov. 29) and earn $30 from American Express. AmEx is offering card members a statement credit when members enroll their eligible American Express Cards and then use them to buy $10 or more in up to three, separate in-store transactions at qualifying small businesses. Statement credits will appear in January, and are limited to three for a total of $30. The number of enrollments is limited. Enrollment continues until 11:59 pm MST on November 29th unless the enrollment limit is reached sooner. (Terms and conditions apply.) More info here.

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(Image by Collage by Meryl Ann Butler for Opednews.com)   Permission   Details   DMCA



Consider bringing some balance into a patriarchal world by supporting a feminist bookstore, most of which are small, local businesses. Don't forget to ask if they can take your Amex card. Here's a list of shops. And look for Vicki Leon's newest book, 4000 Years of Uppity Women, (my OEN interview with Vicki is here) and Trista Hendren's feminist children's books, including The Girl God (see my OEN interview with Trista here.)

2. Pay it forward with international microfinance loans

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Kiva is a non-profit microfinance loan organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Individuals can lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world. Kiva says "100% of every dollar you lend on Kiva goes directly towards funding loans; Kiva does not take a cut (and) Kiva does not charge interest to our Field Partners, who administer the loans." Operations are primarily funded through the support of lenders making optional donations.

Learn more about how it works here.


Colombian seamstress and successful Kiva borrower
(Image by Kiva)
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I've enjoyed feeling philanthropic at a micro level via my nine loans made in the last year or so. Textiles are of interest to me so I have often loaned to women in that field. One of them was dressmaker Beatriz Elena of Colombia, where the average annual income is about $6,000. She is a mother of three. A loan of $850 helped her purchase supplies so she could increase her production. She has paid her loan back in full and I loaned it out again. As my borrowers pay back their loans, when my available credit reaches $25, I can select another borrower to loan to.

Scott Baker, Managing Editor at Opednews has been loaning and reloaning at Kiva for about 5 years. He says. "With a total investment of only $235 (made over time), I have been able to make 71 loans to people in 27 countries."

Kiva members have made over $640,149,550 in loans since they were founded in 2005, with a 98.81% repayment rate, which Baker notes is "a higher repayment rate than most loans in America."

3. For the more religious folks on your list - spiritual art

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Holiness and the Feminine Spirit The Art of Janet McKenzie, Susan Perry editor
(Image by Photo credit Lightworks, (Winooski, VT), art c. Janet McKenzie)
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Holiness and the Feminine Spirit - The Art of Janet McKenzie(reviewed on OpEdNews here) was selected winner of the 2010 First Place Award for Spirituality (hard cover) by the Catholic Press Association. Vermont artist Janet McKenzie is a master of heartfelt, insightful gender- and racially- inclusive art.


Holy Family, c.Janet McKenzie, Collection of Loyola School, New York, NY
(Image by Photo credit Lightworks, (Winooski, VT), art c. Janet McKenzie)
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The Way of the Cross by Joan Chittister, art by Janet McKenzie (book cover)
(Image by Janet McKenzie)
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The Way of the Cross - Path to New Life written by progressive nun Joan Chittister features McKenzie's sensitive and beautiful paintings depicting the 15 stations of the cross. (These are not your grandmother's stations of the cross!)


McKenzie's eye for the sacred and Chittister's profound meditations on the mysteries of the Cross are joined in this deeply reflective and inspiring book.



4. For the doll lovers on your list

Dolls4Tibet is owned by Mona and Karma Sichoe who employ Tibetan and Indian women to create unique dolls and handicrafts reflecting their rich culture. Mona and Karma provide fair wages and an enjoyable working environment, and also health and child care.



Traditional Tibetan Bopa Doll by Dolls4Tibet
(Image by Dolls4Tibet)
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Himalayan angels by Dolls4Tibet
(Image by Dolls4Tibet)
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The dolls and Himalayan angels are beautiful, and their purchase supports marginalized women.


A little mama enjoys her dolls, outfitted in handwoven clothing from Terra Experience
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler)
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If your doll lovers already have 18" dolls such as the popular American Girl dolls, consider enhancing their clothing collections with stunning handwoven doll clothes made by Mayan women in Guatemala. Beautiful ethnic costumes (running about the same price as the standard, prepackaged "Made in China" ensembles typically offered for these dolls) are available through Terra Experience which supports sustainable development, fair trade, and local artisans and their communities and environment. terraexperience.com


Maya Arts and Crafts of Guatemala, a beautiful coloring book by Marilyn Anderson
(Image by Terra Experience)
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in cooperation with Marilyn Anderson's Pro Arte Maya, Terra Experience is making Maya Arts and Crafts of Guatemala, a beautiful coloring book, available to Mayan students in Guatemalan schools. When you buy one for yourself - they will give a Mayan school or student a copy at no charge.


Rosa and her daughter weave and embroider Terra Experience's 'blue' Patzun huipils.
(Image by Terra Experience)
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Rosa weaves and embroiders Terra Experience's "blue" Patzun huipils.

5. For the quirky folks on your list - focus on funny
Humor is a gift to everyone's mental and physical health, not to mention a great solution for the "hard-to-buy-for" folks on your list.

Surprise a comedically-inclined loved one with a pair of wind-up lederhosen from Archie McPhee, described thusly:

Helmut! Your pants are dancing on their own like they are possessed by some kind of poltergeist! Call the geisterjager! This pair of hopping lederhosen is the best thing to come out of Bavaria since the bratwurst. Wind them up and watch them hop around the desk or the brauhaus tabletop. The 'happy sort of short trouser' stands 3-1/2" tall, with suspenders. Lustig, ya?


The essential wind-up lederhosen from Archie McPhee
(Image by Archie McPhee)
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Or if you want something more thematically related to the Yuletide season, consider a "Santaur" ornament, half Santa, half centaur. You won't have to worry about your reciipient getting a duplicate gift!


Santaur ornament, half Santa, half centaur
(Image by Archie McPhee)
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6. Spread random acts of kindness


There is scientific evidence that being kind can make a measurable difference to the well-being and health of individuals who practice it and receive it.

Studies
show that observing random acts of kindness leads to others doing random acts of kindness.



Quotation, collage by Meryl Ann Butler for opednews
(Image by Opednews)
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And another scientific study shows that babies as young as three months old show a distinct preference for kindness.

We often have peak experiences when we see people being kind to each other. A little kindness may be the best gift of all - to both ourselves and others.

[Edit-oops, sorry, the original date I listed for Small Business Saturday was Nov. 28, my goof! The 28th was Friday, and Small Business Saturday is of course, today, Nov. 29. At least the links I posted had the correct info!]

 

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http://www.merylannbutler.com

Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing since she was a hippie. She began writing for OpEdNews in Feb, 2004. She became a Senior Editor in August 2012 and Managing Editor in January, (more...)
 

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